Surprise NC Sports Betting Proposal Puts Market In Flux As Start Date Nears

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NC sports betting

North Carolina professional sports teams are in line to potentially gain more power in the NC sports betting market.

A budget proposal by the North Carolina General Assembly, obtained by WRAL Monday, gives sports betting market access control solely to the state’s professional sports teams. In existing online NC sports betting law, operators partnered with the organizations are given license priority.

The General Assembly is expected to vote on the $30 billion budget this week. In NC sports betting law signed earlier this year, the industry has to go live between January 8, 2024 and June 14, 2024.

Industry perplexed by North Carolina move

Multiple sources tell LSR the legislative proposal was done without the knowledge of the original sports betting sponsors from this spring.

“[Rep. Jason Saine] is not supporting the changes and seeking to get the language removed,” a source said.

Another source said, “NC is a mess. Apparently, the sports betting sponsors were not consulted on this language, which would be normal course of biz if someone was seeking amendments.”

How NC sports betting law could change

The budget includes a variety of legislative proposals. The proposed budget includes sports betting language that strips out a limit of 12 mobile operators.

In existing language signed by Cooper, an operator did not have to have an agreement with a professional sports organization. Up to eight professional facilities, however, could open in-person sportsbooks.

If the budget passes with the proposal, the Lottery will only “license interactive sports wagering operators who have a written designation agreement” with one of the organizations. At least nine professional sports organizations would qualify.

Who could control NC sports betting access?

Professional sports organizations in North Carolina include: 

The language suggests golf and motorsport governing bodies, like the PGA Tour and NASCAR, could also provide a written agreement.

Slow roll for North Carolina sports betting

While Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation in June, very little moved toward launch has happened. The North Carolina Education Lottery has remained mostly quiet in regard to sports betting regulation.

With a launch required by June 14, 2024, that likely will change soon. The regulatory agency previously told LSR it aims to launch as early as possible.

The Lottery hired Sterl Carpenter to lead its sports betting efforts in August. Earlier this month, the Lottery announced Gaming Laboratories International will help set up sports betting in the state. 

Controversial casino proposal done

Republican legislators were working to include physical commercial casino language into the North Carolina budget. They hoped to tie it to previously approved Medicaid expansion that still needs the budget to pass to be implemented.

Cooper and Democratic lawmakers came out strongly against casino legislation and ultimately killed it this week. Still, LSR sources suggest that situation could carry over to delay budget negotiations further.

There are already tribal casinos in the state, which also have in-person sportsbooks through 2020 legislation.